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'Overwatch' hero spotlight: How to suck less with Zarya

July 12,2016 10:11

Each Overwatch hero is a special snowflake. Different guns, different abilities, different movement speeds, different quirks. Learning to excel with one hero doesn't mean you've mastered Overwatch. SEE ALSO: 4 'Overwatch' hero strategies for beginners ...


Image: Blizzard EntertainmentBy Adam Rosenberg2016-07-11 20:35:26 UTC

Each Overwatch hero is a special snowflake.
Different guns, different abilities, different movement speeds, different quirks. Learning to excel with one hero doesn't mean you've mastered Overwatch.
Playing a hero the "right" way only gets you so far, of course. Positioning, team formation (on both sides) and overall skill level are still important; you can play a hero perfectly and still lose. But you probably won't win until you learn to play whoever you're using right.
We've got you covered. Read on for tips, strategies and ideal maps/modes to help you suck less at using Overwatch's versatile Russian heavy, Zarya.
Ability breakdown

Weapon: Particle Cannon. Short-range sustained energy beam that drains the 100-capacity clip at a steady rate while firing. Low base damage per second, but can be increased with Energy (discussed below).
Secondary fire: Explosive Charge. Each trigger press lobs a ball of energy that travels in a gentle arc; aim high for longer range shots. Moderate base damage can be increased with Energy. Each shot consumes 25 units from the ammo clip.
Particle Barrier: Applies a temporary 2-second shield to Zarya that absorbs damage and converts it into Energy. 10-second cooldown.
Projected Barrier: Applied a temporary 2-second shield to a targeted ally that absorbs damage and converts it into Energy. 8-second cooldown.
Energy: As a store of Energy builds up from Zarya's Barriers absorbing attacks, the damage dealt by her Particle Cannon rises. Amassed Energy drains away each second until it's gone.
Ultimate ability: Graviton Surge. This ultimate is essentially a black hole bomb. It draws in any nearby enemies and immobilizes them at the point of impact — they can still shoot back — applying steady damage for four seconds.
How to Zarya
Zarya has a lower total health than the other Overwatch tanks, making her an outlier in her category that works better in a tank support role than for straight-up damage absorption on the front lines.
The trick to being effective with Zarya is mastering your Barrier timing to maximize Energy. That damage boost is significant when you get it right, but it requires a strong sense of timing mixed with a more aggressive style of play.

Image: Blizzard EntertainmentThe key is to trigger yours or an ally's Barrier right as the enemy starts firing. Pop it too early and the majority of attackers will hold their fire until the 2-second duration elapses. It's better to be late, but you also want to minimize the damage you take.
When you're not blitzing or being blitzed, just look for opportunities to absorb damage. Turrets and blind-firing Junkrats give you a measure of control over when and how you fill your Energy, so use that to your advantage.
There's also some nuance to using Zarya's ultimate effectively. 
If you know you're going to tank forward and launch it into a group, pop your Barrier after the bomb goes off. You'll likely draw fire as enemies realize they're caught in a Zarya ultimate, and you can use the Energy they create to wipe them out that much more quickly.
Graviton Surge is also a great ultimate to pair with other ultimates. Make sure to coordinate your Zarya with any Hanzo, Junkrat, McCree or other hero that has a screen-clearing ultimate.
Best maps/modes: Zarya's support tools make her a boon to teams in most situations, provided she's in the hands of a skilled player. It's less about where she is and more about how you're using her to push toward a particular objective. If she's going to be the sole tank in a group, Control maps (Ilios, Lijiang Tower, Nepal) are best.
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